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For then, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, 2I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgment with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations. They have divided my land, 3and cast lots for my people, and traded boys for prostitutes, and sold girls for wine, and drunk it down.

4 What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will turn your deeds back upon your own heads swiftly and speedily. 5For you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my rich treasures into your temples. 6You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, removing them far from their own border. 7But now I will rouse them to leave the places to which you have sold them, and I will turn your deeds back upon your own heads. 8I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the people of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far away; for the L ord has spoken.


Judgment in the Valley of Jehoshaphat


Proclaim this among the nations:

Prepare war,

stir up the warriors.

Let all the soldiers draw near,

let them come up.


Beat your plowshares into swords,

and your pruning hooks into spears;

let the weakling say, “I am a warrior.”



Come quickly,

all you nations all around,

gather yourselves there.

Bring down your warriors, O L ord.


Let the nations rouse themselves,

and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat;

for there I will sit to judge

all the neighboring nations.



Put in the sickle,

for the harvest is ripe.

Go in, tread,

for the wine press is full.

The vats overflow,

for their wickedness is great.



Multitudes, multitudes,

in the valley of decision!

For the day of the L ord is near

in the valley of decision.


The sun and the moon are darkened,

and the stars withdraw their shining.



The L ord roars from Zion,

and utters his voice from Jerusalem,

and the heavens and the earth shake.

But the L ord is a refuge for his people,

a stronghold for the people of Israel.


The Glorious Future of Judah


So you shall know that I, the L ord your God,

dwell in Zion, my holy mountain.

And Jerusalem shall be holy,

and strangers shall never again pass through it.



In that day

the mountains shall drip sweet wine,

the hills shall flow with milk,

and all the stream beds of Judah

shall flow with water;

a fountain shall come forth from the house of the L ord

and water the Wadi Shittim.



Egypt shall become a desolation

and Edom a desolate wilderness,

because of the violence done to the people of Judah,

in whose land they have shed innocent blood.


But Judah shall be inhabited forever,

and Jerusalem to all generations.


I will avenge their blood, and I will not clear the guilty,

for the L ord dwells in Zion.

This is a confirmation of the preceding doctrine, ye shall know, he says, that I am your God. The Prophet intimates that the favor of God had been so hidden during the afflictions of the people, that they could not but think that they were forsaken by God. His word ought indeed to be sufficient for us in the greatest evils; for though God may cast us into the deepest gulfs, yet when he shines upon us by his word, it ought to be a consolation abundantly available to sustain our souls. But yet, unless God really appears, we are confounded, and ask where is his power. For this reason the Prophet now says, that the faithful shall at length know, that is, really know him as their God.

There is a twofold knowledge, — the knowledge of faith, received from his word, — and the knowledge of experience, as we say, derived from actual enjoyment. The faithful ever acknowledge that salvation is laid up for them in God; but sometimes they stagger and suffer grievous torments in their minds, and are tossed here and there. However it may be with them, they certainly do not by actual enjoyment know God to be their Father. The Prophet therefore now treats of real knowledge, when he says, that they shall know that they have a God, — how are they to know this? By experience. Now this passage teaches us, that though God should not put forth his hand manifestly to help us, we ought yet to entertain good hope of his favor; for the Prophet spoke for this end, — that the godly might, before the event or the accomplishment of the prophecy should come, look to God and cast on him all their cares. Then the faithful, before they had real knowledge, knew God to be their Father, and hence hesitated not to flee to him though what the Prophet testified had not yet been visibly accomplished.

Dwelling in Zion, the mountain of my holiness: This has been designedly added, that the faithful might know, that God made not a covenant in vain with Abraham, that mount Zion had not in vain been chosen, that they might there call on God; for we must have our attention called to the promises, otherwise all doctrine will become frigid. Now we know that all the promises have been founded on a covenant, that is, because God had adopted the people, and afterwards deposited his covenant in the hand of David, and then he designated mount Zion as his sanctuary. Since, then, all the promises flow from this fountain, it was necessary to call the attention of the Jews to the covenant: and this is the reason why the Prophet says now that God dwells in Zion; for otherwise this doctrine would no doubt only lead to superstition. God, indeed, we know, cannot be included within the circumference of any place, much less could he be confined to the narrow limits of the temple; but he dwelt on mount Zion on account of his own law, because he made a covenant with Abraham, and afterwards with David.

It then follows, And Jerusalem shall be holy, and aliens shall not pass through it any more. While he declares that Jerusalem shall be holy, he exempts it at the same time from profanation. We know that it is a common mode of speaking in Scripture, and what often occurs, that God’s heritage is holy, and also, that they profaned it. Hence, when the people were exposed as a prey to the pleasure of their enemies, the heritage of God became forsaken and polluted, profane men trod Jerusalem as it were under foot. But now the Prophet exempts the holy city from this pollution, as though he said, “The Lord will not allow his people to be thus miserably harassed, and will show that this city has been chosen by him, and that he has in it his dwelling. Aliens then shall no more pass through it — Why? For it is first the holy city of God, and then, of his Church.

But as this promise extends to the whole kingdom of Christ, God doubtless makes here a general promise, that he will be the protector of his Church, that it may not be subject to the will of enemies; and yet we see that it often happens otherwise. But this ought to be imputed to our sins, for we make the breaches. God would, indeed be a wall and a rampart to us, as it is said elsewhere, (Isaiah 26:1;) but we betray his Church by our sins. Hence aliens occupy a place in it: Ye we see at this day; for Antichrist, as it has been foretold, has now for ages exercised dominion in God’s sanctuary. Since it is so, we ought to mourn at seeing God’s holy Church profaned. Let us yet know, that God will take care to gather his elect, and to cleanse them from every pollution and defilement. It follows —

The Prophet here declares that God will be so bountiful to his people, that no good things will be wanting to them either in abundance or variety. When God then shall restore his Church, it will abound, he says, in every kind of blessing: for this is the meaning of this language, Distill new wine shall the mountains, and the hills shall make milk to run down; and all rivers also shall have abundant waters, and a fountain shall arise from the house of Judah to irrigate the valley of Shittim. We now perceive the design of Joel. But we must remember that when the Prophets so splendidly extol the blessings of God, they intend not to fill the minds of the godly with thoughts about eating and drinking; but profane men lay hold on such passages as though the Lord intended to gratify their appetite. We know, indeed, that God’s children differ much from swine: hence God fills not the faithful with earthly things, for this would not be useful for their salvation. At the same time, he thus enlarges on his blessings, that we may know that no happiness shall in any way be wanting to us, when God shall be propitious to us. We hence see that our Prophet so speaks of God’s earthly blessings, that he fills not the minds of the godly with these things but desires to raise them above, as though he said, that the Israelites would in every way be happy, after having in the first place been reconciled to God. For whence came their miseries and distresses of every kind, but from their sins? Since, then, all troubles, all evils, are signs of God’s wrath and alienation, it is no wonder that the Lord, when he declares that he will be propitious to them, adds also the proofs of his paternal love, as he does here: and we know that it was necessary for that rude people, while under the elements of the Law, to be thus instructed; for they could not as yet take solid food, as we know that the ancients under the Law were like children. But it is enough for us to understand the design of the Holy Spirit, namely, that God will satisfy his people with the abundance of all good things, as far as it will be for their benefit. Since God now calls us directly to heaven, and raises our minds to the spiritual life, what Paul says ought to be sufficient, — that to godliness is given the hope, not only of future life, but also of that which is present, (1 Timothy 4;) for God will bless us on the earth, but it will be, as we have already observed, according to the measure of our infirmity.

The valley of Shittim was nigh the borders of the Moabites, as we learn from Numbers 25:1, and Joshua 2:1. Now when the Prophet says, that waters, flowing from the holy fountains would irrigate the valley of Shittim, it is the same as though he said, that the blessing of God in Judea would be so abundant, as to diffuse itself far and wide, even to desert valleys.

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